Tag Archives: running

the probable last hurrah

29 May

Every race you learn something new, don’t you?

I, for example, after running the Soldier Field 10 Miler last Saturday, learned that save for the Turkey Trot that my brother-in-law and I run on Thanksgiving, I really have no desire to do a race again.


Okay, maybe a short one here or there, like an 8K or a 5K. But only if it’s for a good cause, like Save the Elephants. Or whales, if they still need saving. Or if I get to dress up like Elvis. And I have someone to run with. And someone takes me out for kegs ‘n eggs afterwards. Or at least an omelet. With sausage in it. And feta.

But as for longer races, I think I’m done for the moment. Running is a lonely sport, particularly when everyone you know is faster than you. I’m totally comfortable with my slow pace, as the finishing part is much more important to me than how long it takes me to get there, but when you’re bored with talking to yourself at mile two, well, maybe it’s time to say thanks, but no thanks, to thinking about future races that have any great length to them. Or that do not give you a pie at the end of it all.

I will say, though, that this Soldier Field 10 Miler was a good race to run as the last one before my self-induced race hiatus. Let’s face it—I may not have gotten a pie at the end, but I did get to end on the 50-yard line of Soldier Field. (Or, if you are from Chicago, Soldiers Field.) And that right there is pretty wicked. PLUS, you get to be on the Jumbotron when you cross the finish line! Not that I looked up to see myself on the (literally) big screen, as I was too busy having this conversation in my head:

(as am running the last half-mile, which takes you through the semi-bowels of the stadium) Two hours. The goal is to do this in under two hours. You can do this. Maybe. Unless it’s already past two hours. Hard to say, since you forgot to wear a watch. Oohhh…Cher’s If I Could Turn Back Time. Damn, girl, if I could turn back time I wouldn’t have signed up for this damn race. Yes, I would have. No, maybe not. I don’t really know. Holy shit my feet hurt. Two hours. Two hours. If I could find a way, I’d take back all the miles that have hurt you, feet, and you’d stay…not hurting. Under two hours. Two hours. Crimony this is a long half mile. Wait! Hey! I can see daylight! That’s the tunnel opening! I can see the green football field! Hey! I can see the finish line! Hey! I can see the time clo—


And with that, my friends, I ran—sprinted, really—toward the finish line so fast you’d think Ed McMahon had come back from the dead and was waiting with an oversized check and a contract for a tell-all book about my experiences running half marathons and shamrock shuffles and jingle all the ways so as to inspire other people out there who think these types of things are grand ideas until the actual day of the race and then they get into their corrals and they’re all “HFS, WHY DID WE LISTEN TO THAT CRAZY WOMAN SHE DOESN’T KNOW SQUAT ABOUT WHAT CONSITUTES GOOD IDEAS I MEAN HAVE YOU SEEN HER HAIR LATELY AND I COULD BE IN BED SLEEPING RIGHT NOW AND I WAS PROMISED AN OMELET.”

Official time was 1:59:25.

half marathon part two: lessons learned

12 Sep

You’d think I would have learned a few takeaways from the Rock and Roll half marathon last month to use in yesterday’s Chicago half marathon. And I did! And yet I didn’t.


Lesson #1: Just because you get to the race site at 5:30 a.m. before the sun is even up doesn’t mean you won’t need your sunglasses later. So it’s best to not leave them in the trunk of your car.

Lesson #2: Turkey chili is really not the best thing to carbo-load on the night before a race. Trust me on this one. Delicious, but not the best.

Lesson #3: Why didn’t someone (namely myself) remind me to wear pants? Let me rephrase that: For the love of God, DON’T WEAR SHORTS BECAUSE CHAFING HURTS WHEN YOU FORGET TO LUBE UP PRE-RACE.

Lesson #4: Mentally and physically, this race was easier than the last one. My foot did not rebel, and adding some ZZ Top (LaGrange) to the half-marathon mix did wonders at mile 11.

Lesson #5: Also? Thank you, Peter Segal and the Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me crew. Three podcasts in a row will also do wonders for distraction while running up and down Lake Shore Drive. Also, that Henry Winkler was a hoot on Not My Job.

Lesson #6: Yes, I really am that big of an NPR nerd. The secret is out!  (Like it ever even a secret?)

Lesson #7: The two best signs I saw during the race: 1) A woman’s shirt that said, IT’S NOT SWEAT, IT’S JUST MY FAT CRYING, and 2) a guy holding a sign about a quarter mile from the finish line that said THE END IS NEAR. The lesson? If you’re going to cheer people on with a sign at a race, make it a good one.

Lesson #8: Don’t leave your ID in the car because then your brother-in-law will take your free beer ticket and drink said free beer, knowing you will not bother walking back to your car to get your ID then walk BACK over to the race site for a free Mich Ultra. But then again, it’s Mich Ultra, so it’s not like you’re missing much.

Lesson #9: Gatorade is disgusting, especially if you drink it at every aid station along the way. Must you be so sugary, Gatorade? Blech.

Lesson #10: Who has two thumbs and is excited to take a break from running for awhile? This Girl. Well, at least until it’s time to start training for the next half-marathon in Wisconsin this November. And that training starts, let’s see here on my schedule….. Gah. Shit.

half-marathon recap: truths

15 Aug

Truth: I was the very front of my corral at the starting line. When you’re standing that close, 13.1 miles looks like a really, really long time.

Truth: I had to take a bathroom break 1.5 miles in. No judging.

Truth: There was a lot of chafing. A lot.

Truth: Chafing hurts. Even more so the next day.

Truth: I could use another slathering of Eucerin.

Truth: That may have been TMI. Sorry.

Truth: My official time was 2:42:07. My goal was A) to Not Die, and 2) to Finish. So I think the fact that I did both of those things in under three hours? Pretty impressive.

Truth: It couldn’t have been better weather. Very cool, and even raining at points.

Truth: I will totally take rain over wet-blanket like humidity and sunshine if I’m going to be running for close to three hours through the streets of Chicago, TYVM.

Truth: I love Greektown, and all its sights and smells.

Truth: I do not love Greektown when I am 5 miles in to a 13-mile run, it’s 8 o’clock in the morning and for whatever reasons the gyros store owners think it’s a fine time to fire up the lamb-on-a-spit.

Truth: It actually kind of made me want to vomit.

Truth: That would have been bad.

Truth: My left foot was cramping throughout the race, even when I’d slow down to walk. By the time the race was finished, and I sat down to soak my feet, my left foot decided it had had enough of this being used bullshit and decided if I wouldn’t stop using it, it would simply stop being nice and normal and instead be all painful and sucky.

Truth: When they asked me at the medical tent what I needed, I almost burst into tears when I wailed, “I don’t KNOW!”

Truth: They gave me ice and ibuprofen. It somewhat helped.

Truth: I DID burst into tears on the phone later when I was talking to The Swede, which I think alarmed him. Not that he’s never seen me burst into tears, but I think because I’m pretty sure I was not making ANY goddamned sense while crying, talking, laughing and in major pain throughout the conversation.

Truth: My left foot is still in pain today. I have an appointment with a doc tomorrow.

Truth: But who cares about that! The race! I ran the first seven miles, and then after that—due to my woeful undertraining—alternated run a mile/walk a mile for the last five. I worked it so that the last mile and a tenth I was running, because walking across the finish line just would not have been as sweet.

Truth: Whoever invented the iPod is a godsend.

Truth: I loaded close to four hours into a half-marathon playlist. Thank you Kanye, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, White Stripes, Sly and the Family Stone, et al for running with me. Much appreciated.

Truth: Holy shit 13.1 miles is a long way.

Truth: But I did it. I wasn’t sure I’d make it, but I did. Put that in your half-marathon pipe and smoke it.


training report v: well shit.

10 Aug


The Chicago Rock’n’Roll half-marathon is a mere four days away.

And truth be told, I am woefully undertrained.

I also, for the record, take full responsibility for my undertrainedeness.

*It was nobody’s fault but my own that there was a good two weeks there where the closest I came to running was watching Captain America sprint across the big screen.

(Dude. That guy can run. Like, fast. And he doesn’t even seem to be winded! I need Stanley Tucci and his magic serum in MY life! And crazy extremist Nazis! Which I think may actually be a redundant description! But whatever!)

*It was nobody’s fault but my own that I chose to sleep in Sunday rather than get up at a time when it would not be so ass-hot for my long run.

*It was nobody’s fault but my own that I’ve been distracted by online fall clothes shopping.

*And it’s nobody’s fault but my own that the above statement has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of training whatsoever.

No judging.

Well, okay, you can judge me. I kind of deserve it.

But also: pray for me.  My goal at this point is to Not Die.

Here’s hoping.

training report part III: hello? anybody out there?

11 Jul


Is this thing on?

Hello? Hel—


What is that?

<recoils slightly at sight of  a mechanical running machine>

And THAT?!

<stares in horror at a sidewalk>

And those?

<points to a dirty looking pair of gym shoes languishing in a corner>

I’m supposed to…what? Do what with those things?


So let me get this straight. I’m supposed to put down the gimlet and back away slowly? Have you seen the thermometer lately? Do you know how much I dislike humi—…


What do you mean you don’t care? What do you mean I need to get my ass in gear.

<excessive grumbling>



Cruel to be kind MY ASS.

training report part II: in letters

13 Jun

Dear Treadmill,

I own you. Well, technically the gym owns you, but I dominated you. Because you? You are a machine. And I have opposable thumbs.




Dear Makers of Blue Moon,

Why must you thwart my plans for a long run through my beautiful, tree-lined campus the other weekend by making your product so delicious that I must purchase a second pitcher? Why do you hate me, makers of Blue Moon? Why don’t you want me to succeed? WHY CAN’T YOU MAKE SHITTY TASTING BEER LIKE MILWAUKEE’S BEAST?

The Beast wants me to succeed in my training.

I always new Milwaukee loved me best.

Drink up, Johnny,



Dear Menstrual Cramps,

Knock that shit off.



Dear Guy at Gym,

I’m pretty sure you devise your workouts around an audience you think is watching you, eyes glued to your every move. That is why you toss your weight lifting gloves at the hooks on the machine like you’re playing ring toss, and then act all “Awww, MAN!” when you miss.

Which is every time.

And why you pull yourself up on the pull-up bar, flip yourself over and do inverted stomach crunches while upside down. Which, BTW, makes me very nervous, because I’m afraid you’re going to lose your grip and land on your neck.

But what you clearly don’t realize is that no one is watching you. No one is viewing your ring tossing and Cirque de Soleil ways.

Well, except me.

So…fine. Someone is watching you. But don’t expect me to give you a round of applause. That would require me attempting the stair climber sans hands to clap for you, and I can barely keep myself from tumbling off on a good day.




Dear Lakefront Path,

I love you. You make Lake Michigan look so sparkly and lovely in the morning, even though I know in reality it is ass-cold and not fit for swimming.

Don’t you go changing,


training report, part 1

30 May

Captain’s Log: Since I spilled my beans about tossing my cookies and ponying up to train for a half-marathon, I figured it was probably time that I, you know, actually started training. Last weekend my sweet and wonderful friend Nina agreed to go running with me on a long run, and we met in the wee hours of Saturday morning to join the other crazies along the lakefront path.

For the record, Nina is sweet and wonderful on a regular basis. But she is even sweeter and wonderfuler because she agreed to be my long run buddy, and if you’ve ever run…anywhere…you know it’s always better with a buddy.

Also, for the record, by “wee hours” I mean 9:30 a.m.

Also, also, for the record: I almost knocked a cyclist off his bike when I saw my best gal’s little sister on the running on the path and shot my hand out to wave at her. Moral of the story, kids: Always look before you flail your arms. And for the love of Christ, cyclists, watch where you’re going if you’re in the Chicagoland area. You never know where I might be, or when I might need to greet someone heading in the opposite direction from me. You’ve Been Warned.

We managed to get in our four miles with only a small amount of walking, though I did come away with some major blisters, which, Hi, OW, and hello, NOT attractive for the sandal-wearing that I hope to happen soon if Chicago ever decides to sack up and have a spring and/or summer.

Anyhoo, I’ve been trying to follow Hal Higdon’s training schedule for a half marathon, and the rest of the week was…meh. It wasn’t superbly awesome, but it wasn’t too shabby, either. I did manage to get up before work one morning last week and go out for a run—not the 3 miles I was supposed to do, because I read the chart wrong, but I did get in a good 2 miles, so that’s at least something, right? Right.

And it was a beautiful, sunny morning, warm and quite lovely, and as I huffed and puffed through the Swede’s childhood PF neighborhood (as we were staying at his parents’ house), it was almost enjoyable.

Except when I turned a corner and the route took me through a particularly wooded spot. That early in the morning, as lethargic tweens waited for the bus and gave me the Weirdo Eye as I slogged past them, the gnats were all a-buzz with the bright morning and fresh dew, and opportunity to fly up my nose, forcing me to jerk my head and spit and rub at my nostrils all at the same time, making me look, I’m sure, super mature and totally hip to those tweens.

Me  = Role Model.

Whatever. Be nice, kids, or I will not purchase booze for your underage selves at the Party Liquors.

Week 2 of training, here I come.

since the rapture never showed, now i can get back to my to-do list

23 May

So on Mother’s Day, as I was sprawled on the cold, tile of the bathroom floor, having just barfed up the contents of an earlier Mother’s Day brunch, it occurred to me that maybe I take on too much at once.

Not that I’m saying the stress of everyday life made me toss my cookies (or rather, my cheesy hashbrowns), I’m just saying that it gave me time to think.

And it’s true. I take on too much sometimes. Often. Whatever. I like to think that I am Super Girl who can do Everything At Once. And yes, I am Super, and I am a Girl (and I do like to wear tights) but no, I really do not have to do everything at once PUT DOWN THE COOKBOOK WHILE YOU’RE TAKING A WRITING WORKSHOP AND JUST STARTED A NEW JOB FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY AND DECENT.



Anyshoes, so the past couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about what I have going on and prioritizing. Some things have gotten pushed to the side to be saved for a few months from now when other projects have settled down.

But some things have stuck around.

Which is where you all come in.

Yes, you.

And you.

And over there in the corner—you.

One of my goals for the past couple of years has been to run a half-marathon. I’ve even attempted to train for one once or twice. Or at least I’ve certainly thought about training for it quite often.

But to be honest, I don’t particularly like running. I like the idea of running, and even more I like the results.

(It makes my legs and ass look terrific.)

(Oh, hello, I’m McPolish. Nice to meet you. On occasion I can be very, very vain. And you?)

And besides the physical results, I can honestly say that after every race I’ve run I’ve felt phenomenal. Like I am a fucking rock star. I think a lot of that elation stems from simply A) finishing something, and 2) making something I really don’t care to be doing my bitch.

So the half-marathon goal remains on my current, immediate Want To Do list.

(As does making a Target run for Qtips, but that’s neither here nor there for the moment.)

And that’s where you all come in, as I need you, dear Interwebers, to hold me accountable, and hold my hand as I go through training, and bearing with me if/when I post droning musings about training. I’m very good at giving myself a goal then never following through on it because no one besides me knows that said goal exists.

But now you know. And now you can bug me about it, and I will stay on top of it because I know you’ll be watching. I’ll keep you posted on my training if you promise to pinch me through the Interwebs’ ether when I don’t seem to be holding up my end of the bargain.

Game on.

The race is Sunday, August 14.

T-minus three months and counting.


27 Jul

Every week it gets harder and harder. Pulling up to the shelter, slowly walking down the row of cages, all the expectant faces looking at you with gentle curiosity, the question, “Can you give me a forever home?” written from eyes to muzzle. No, I can’t, I want to explain to those sweet things. I’m only here for one of you, just to release you for a couple of hours of frolicking in the park. Don’t worry, though, there are more of me coming to get more of you today, I want to say. You can tell the ones who have been at the shelter a long time, barely glancing up, not getting very excited, used to humans coming and going but never sticking around for very long.

And then there is Farrah.

She was my dog on this week’s hike, a 5-month-old Akita/Lab mix, a puppy in her prime. A puppy with a serious case of the crazies.

The minute I opened her kennel she was out like a rocket, something I was warned about after the fact by the program director. “Yeah, I figured that out,” I responded drily to him, explaining that she had shot past me and one of the shelter volunteers but was thankfully nabbed by a second volunteer down the row. It took me a full minute to get Farrah’s leash on her, so full of energy was she that she couldn’t calm down and flailed and flung her body about. She pulled me out the door, pooped in the grass and then pulled me in one direction while I tried to guide her in another, toward the car. Happy to be free, she came along nicely, but balked at getting in the back seat.

“Farrah,” I said, “I’m bigger than you. You’re getting in the car.” And I picked her up and plopped her in. She did laps in the backseat as we drove, nosing the window a little, trying to look out the back window and banging her head on the ceiling where it met the glass, mistaking the umbrella I’d stupidly left on the backseat as a chew toy, and trying to climb into the front seat.

“Uh-uh,” said, pushing her back. “Dogs ride in the backseat.” I was firm. I was standing strong. Farrah stood with her back paws on the backseat, front paws on the console, unsteady and not yet grown into her galumping paws, stretching her head and neck out to rest it on my shoulder as I drove. “I could help you navigate,” those big eyes seemed to say. And then I was weak. Farrah was now in the front seat, sliding all over the place. “Here, let me be more helpful!” she seemed to smile at me as she tried to climb into my lap as I drove.

“Farrah, you are not a lap dog. You are not even a lap puppy,” I tried to explain to her. She didn’t seem to care. What’s this? She sniffed heavily at the rearview mirror. “Farrah, it’s just a mirror.” “I must sniiiiiiiifffff it. And this thing, too. These air vents.” Sniff sniff sniff. “And you! I must sniff you!” Sniff sniff sniff.

At the park, she strained on her leash, so excited, until I thought she would either choke herself or give herself a hernia. She did neither, though she did make a mess of the water bowls, plopping down in front of one and throwing a paw and forehead into it in an attempt to drink. I looked over at one of the other volunteers who stood with dog named Scrappy-Doo. Scrappy-Doo seemed calm, cool, and collected, taking in the sights and sounds of the day’s hike, seemed content to sit at the volunteer’s feet until he was told otherwise.

Farrah, meanwhile, had stretched her leash as far as it would go and was eating another dog’s barf.

She didn’t care for the gentle leader that we put on her, tried to swipe at the day-glo orange bands around her muzzle, but holding the leash taut and leaving little slack so her head had to stay up made her forget about it as we tromped into the woods. It was only when I decided to experiment and let the leash out slightly that she remembered the leader was there and instantly her forehead was on the ground, her front two paws clawing at it, her little body flailing around as she freaked out until I pulled the leash back, gently tugged her head up, and kept her walking. In general she did fine on the hike, didn’t need to be at the front of the pack, didn’t seem to notice the other dogs, but just that every once in awhile, BAM! It was like someone has popped a speed ball up her ass and she went nuts, pulling this way, no! this way! wait! that way! There are red marks on my hands from trying to keep her under control on the leash.

By the end, poor girl was worn out. She plodded along the last stretch and I thought, “Ah, she’ll sleep on the way back to the shelter. She’ll be a calm dog in the backseat.”

Not so much.

As soon as we approached the group and her gentle leader came off, Farrah was all over the place: clumsily trying to paw at the water bowl and drink at the same time, nosing up to other dogs, leaning against me when they got too close, sitting for half a second before running in circles as one of the volunteers tried to take her picture.

In the car on the ride back, her energy reserve seemed to regenerate. And multiply. “Backseat. Front seat. Can I sit on your lap? No. Backseat. Front seat. How about now? What’s this bag down here? What’s this? I have to sniff it. How about now? Can I sit in your lap now?” She was the freaking Verizon Guy of dogs.

She bounded out of the car and into the shelter, but balked when we got back to her cage, like she could sense this party trip was coming to an end. Normally this is the part of the day that makes me sad, that makes me give the dogs a quick kiss on the head before hustling them into their cages and quickly walking away. With Farrah, I hustled her into her cage, slowed in fastening the lock, and quickly walked away, sad as usual, but also just a bit relieved.

My God, she was such a puppy.

I’ve never been so exhausted after a PACK run in my life.

Body Talk

20 May

I’ve taken to running in the mornings before work lately. And by that I mean in the last two weeks I’ve done this 3 times. I don’t really know what’s gotten into me, except to say that my hips seem to be taking on a life of their own and I’d like to at least attempt to make them stop.

It’s actually not so bad, running in the morning. I’m usually still so sleepy that the first half of the run is completed in a somewhat delirious state. And it’s kind of nice to wake up with the neighborhood. It’s quiet as the sun stretches its rays out over the trees, and the air has that pleasant dewy-fresh smell. I was surprised to find that there are quite a few people up and at it at the same time, wandering about their property or walking the dog. We smile politely, sometimes wave or head nod as we pass each other. And part of me thinks, “What the shit are you people doing up at this hour? Go back to bed.

And then my body’s all, “Hey, McCrazy, why don’t you practice what you preach?”

And I’m all, “Hey, Asshead McHippy, I would if you’d stop trying to make yourselves the size of Delaware.”